The DSC Book


This book is no longer available for sale.

The DSC Book

"Forever" Edition

About the Book

This is now an open-source book. Anything you choose to pay for the Leanpub version will go entirely to the DevOps Collective’s IT scholarship programs. Visit to contribute to this project!

Microsoft MVP Award recipient Don Jones and in-the-trenches DSC expert Missy Januszko tackle the enormous and complex topic of Desired State Configuration (DSC) in this "agile-published" book that will continue to be expanded and updated over time. Covering everything from design principles and infrastructure deployment, to configuration authoring, and to custom resource design and programming, you'll find everything you need in this comprehensive tome. And what you might not find in this book will be added and revised over time - making this your "forever" book on the subject, unlike traditionally published volumes.

The DSC Book is designed to help you understand how DSC works, and how you can use it in a variety of scenarios. Examples are, for the most part, extremely concise - they're intended to help you understand the needed structure and approach. You should already be very familiar with coding advanced functions ("script cmdlets") in PowerShell, or consider purchasing Learn PowerShell Toolmaking in a Month of Lunches to gain that background knowledge. The practices and approaches presented in the book come from real-world engagements and experiences, and will continue to evolve over time as more and more people engage with DSC. Those "over time" learnings will be incorporated into the book, hopefully making it the last DSC book you'll ever need to buy.

About the Authors

Don Jones
Don Jones

Don Jones has been in the IT industry since the mid 1990s, and has been a recipient of Microsoft's "Most Valuable Professional" Award since 2003. He's a co-founder of and The DevOps Collective, and a Curriculum Director for online video training company Pluralsight. Don authored some of the first books ever published for Windows PowerShell, and is the co-author of Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, the bestselling entry-level book for PowerShell. Don's a sought-after speaker at technology conferences like Microsoft Ignite, TechMentor, and many more. In 2014, Don started writing fiction in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, and had produced several notable novels, including The Never: A Tale of Peter and the Fae, The Achillios Chronicles trilogy (Alabaster, Onyx, and Verdant), and Daniel Scratch: A Story of Witchkind. You can find him on Twitter @concentratedDon, or on his website, 

Melissa Januszko
Melissa Januszko

Melissa Januszko is a 20-year veteran Enterprise Architect and automation expert. She specializes in private cloud hosting infrastructure and Active Directory. She is a co-author of "The DSC Book" with Don Jones and a highly-anticipated conference speaker. 

Table of Contents

    • About This Book
    • About the Authors
    • Feedback
    • A Note on Code Listings
      • Code Samples
    • Introduction
      • What is DSC?
      • Not Just for Provisioning
      • How Does DSC Compare to Group Policy?
      • Cattle, Not Pets
      • Technology, not Tool
      • A 2018 Update: What is DSC Good For?
  • Part 1: Design Decisions
    • Designing DSC
      • The Players
      • The Pieces
      • The CIM Connection
      • Uniqueness in MOFs
      • Getting the MOF to the LCM
      • Configuration Variations
      • Understanding Dependencies
  • Part 2: Configuring the Infrastructure
    • Infrastructure Prerequisites
    • Configuring the LCM
      • Checking the Configuration
      • Changing the Configuration
      • Deploying the LCM Configuration
      • Specifying Configuration Pull Servers
      • Specifying DSC Resource Pull Servers
      • Specifying Reporting Servers
      • Partial Configurations
      • Versions and Troubleshooting
    • Setting Up a Pull Server
      • Before You Begin
      • Reprising the Roles
      • A Word of Caution
      • Step 1: Install the Module
      • Step 2: Get an SSL Certificate
      • Step 3: Make a GUID
      • Step 4: Set Up DSC
      • Step 5: Run and Deploy the Config
      • Confirming the Setup
      • Life Choices
    • Opting Out of the Pull Server Approach
  • Part 3: Testing the Infrastructure
    • Testing Push Mode
      • Creating the Configuration
      • Running the Configuration to Produce a MOF
      • Pushing the MOF
    • Testing Pull Mode
      • Creating the Configuration
      • Running the Configuration to Produce a MOF
      • Deploying the MOF and Module to a Pull Server
      • Creating a Meta-Configuration
      • Pushing the Meta-Configuration to a Node
      • Pulling the Configuration from the Pull Server
      • Verifying the Node’s State
  • Part 4: Authoring Configurations
    • Basic Configuration Authoring
      • Getting Started: The Configuration Block
      • Adding Nodes
      • Adding a Parameter Block
      • Adding Settings
      • Adding Basic Logic
      • Adding Node-Side Logic
      • Documenting Dependencies
      • Running the Configuration
      • Deploying the MOF
      • Wrapping Up
    • Going Further with Configurations
      • Again: DSC isn’t Tooling
      • Understanding ConfigurationData
      • Defining Configuration Data
      • Referencing and Using Configuration Data
      • All-Nodes Data
      • Using the $AllNodes Variable
      • Configuration Script Strategies
      • Using NonNodeData
    • Poor Man’s Configuration Modularization
      • Dot Sourcing
      • Approach Analysis
    • Composite Configurations
      • Creating a Composite Resource
      • Turning the Configuration into a Resource Module
      • Using the Composite Resource
      • Deploying the Composite Resource
      • Approach Analysis
      • Design Considerations
    • Partial Configurations
      • Summarizing Partial Configuration Pros and Cons
      • Authoring a Partial Configuration MOF
      • Configuring the LCM for Partial Configurations
      • Partial Configuration Dependencies
      • Partial Configuration Authoritative Resources
      • Mix ‘n’ Match
      • File Naming Details
    • Deploying MOFs to a Pull Server
  • Part 5: Using and Authoring Resources
    • Finding and Using Resources
      • Finding What’s Out There
      • Installing What’s Out There
      • Finding What’s Installed
      • Figuring Out What a Resource Wants
    • Custom Resources
      • Before We Begin: Function-Based vs. Class-Based
      • Writing the Functional Code
      • Writing the Interface Module
      • Preparing the Module for Use and Deployment
      • Triggering a Reboot
    • Class-Based Custom Resources
      • Writing the Class-Based Interface Module
      • Preparing the Module for Use
    • Best Practices for Resource Design
      • Principle One: Resources are an Interface
      • Thinking About Design
      • For Example
      • Advantages of the Approach
      • Disadvantage of the Approach
    • The Script Resource
      • The Basics
      • Cool Tricks
  • Part 6: Advanced Stuff
    • Reporting
      • Understanding the Default Report Server
      • Querying Report Data
      • The AgentId
    • Security and DSC
      • A Word on Certificates
      • Securing the Pull Server
      • Securing Credentials in Configurations
      • PSDSCRunAsCredential
      • Digital Signing
    • DSC in Azure
    • DSC on Linux
    • Troubleshooting and Debugging
      • Getting Eyes-On
      • Resource Debugging
      • Stopping a Hung LCM
    • Self-Modifying Configurations
      • Understanding the LCM’s Processing
      • The Basic Self-Modifying Workflow
      • Options
      • A Problem to Consider
      • Crazy Ideas for What the Bootstrap Can Do
    • The Scaling Question
      • DSC Already Scales - But You Don’t
      • Let’s Set the Stage
      • Raise Cattle, Not Pets
      • Enter Containers
      • Rock-Solid Infrastructure
      • Getting Back to DSC
      • The Perfect Example
    • LCM and Pull Server Communications
      • The Database
    • Known Problems
      • Error configuring the LCM: “Specified Property does not exist,” “MI RESULT 12”
      • Registration Key Problems
      • maxEnvelopeSize Errors
      • Reporting Server and Large Configurations
      • Class-Based Resources Can’t be ExclusiveResources in Partials

Causes Supported

DevOps Collective Scholarships

Support IT education scholarships by giving to The DevOps Collective, Inc.

The DevOps Collective’s OnRamp scholarships help younger technology professionals, many from underrepresented groups and disadvantaged backgrounds, learn about IT automation, DevOps practices, and more - all at no cost to them or their families. We’re changing one life at a time and helping to ensure the continuation and advancement of our trade!

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